The opposite of Pinocchio, who only wants to be a real boy, I’d like to be a wooden boy. Captured forever in the androgyny of youth.
I have the female model of the human body. It is a good body. I am so grateful for all the things it can do. But I’m not quite sure why I got this model.
When I picture myself in my mind’s eye, I see a boy. Lean, agile, acrobatic. As long as we are imagining an ideal me, let’s throw in some mad parkour skills. But even though I am in my thirties, the image in my mind never becomes a man. It doesn’t bulk up or grow a beard. The opposite of Pinocchio, who only wants to be a real boy, I’d like to be a wooden boy. Captured forever in the androgyny of youth. And I think that’s really the heart of it. I only think ‘boy’ because I don’t have enough androgynous role models. I want to be neither male nor female. I want no gender appearance at all.
Lately, I’ve found a home in nonbinary spaces. And folks to share my journey with. “I bought boxers for the first time!” “I’ve started using a more neutral name!” Nonbinary starts to seem like it might describe me.
But I keep running up against the same disconnect. There is a large part of the nonbinary and trans world that doesn’t make sense to me. Heck, it is the same part of the cis world that doesn’t make sense to me. I can tell you what gender I want to be, but I can’t really tell you what gender I am. I don’t really understand what that means.
Most people – cis, trans, & nonbinary – have an internal sense of gender identity. They are a man, or a woman, or neither, or both. In the nonbinary world, there are a dozen different words to describe your gender, and they all matter to people. I read about people’s struggles to come out at work. They are terrified of how their boss and coworkers will react, but they simply cannot abide by being misgendered any longer. One day the pain of not being seen for who they are becomes greater than the fear, and they break through. I cry and laugh with them and hold out a hand for support. But I do not know what it feels like.
I haven’t come out at work because I don’t care what pronouns you call me. I don’t care what gender you think I am. I’m not sure what gender even means. It is something of utmost importance to the rest of the world that I can scant relate to.
It is in the moments of not understanding that we can reach beyond ourselves.
I will always stand by my trans brothers, sisters, and siblings. I will call them by their pronouns. I will tell them they matter. But I will never really understand why gender is so important to them. Why they would put their bodies through hell to become different bodies. Why they need to fight so hard. But I don’t have to understand everything. If we only love people we understand, we are only really loving our own minds. It is in the moments of not understanding that we can reach beyond ourselves. I don’t understand. But I believe them. That they are experiencing something outside my radar, like so many other things outside my radar. And that this thing matters immensely to them. It is central to their happiness and health. And though I cannot experience it along with them, I can respect and honor them on their journey.
* ‘Gendervague’ and ‘greygender’ are two answers I give to the question, “What gender are you?” Gendervague is used by the autistic community to describe not really understanding what people mean by gender. Greygender is an experience outside the gender binary, but feeling indifferent towards identifying as a particular gender.